Why Hobby Lobby is no win for religious freedom

“The whole point of establishing a corporation is to create an entity separate from oneself to limit legal liability…. It seems awfully dangerous to allow corporations to have it both ways.“ — David Gushee, an evangelical Christian professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University

“The New Testament never—not one time—applies the ‘Christian’ label to a business or even a government…. The tag is applied only to individuals. If the Bible is your ultimate guide, the only organization one might rightly term ‘Christian’ is a church.” — Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical Christian writer and blogger for the Religion News Service

Why Today’s Hobby Lobby Decision Actually Hurts People Of Faith

My opinion:

  • If you’re going to have religious freedom, then closely held corporations ought not to be required to take action against their beliefs.

  • On the other hand, as Gushee notes, the entire point of a corporation is to separate the business from the person. The family that owns Hobby Lobby can’t on the one hand claim, oh mercy, don’t make us support birth control, it’s against our religion, but on the other hand, oh goodness gracious, don’t make us personally liable for Hobby Lobby’s debts and regulatory violations because we enjoy corporate protection. I look forward to a smart attorney going after Hobby Lobby’s owners’ personal finances over some matter unrelated to religious belief.

  • It’s swell to see Big Government stand up for individual freedom. And by extraordinary coincidence, Big Government is once again standing up for the rights of the 1%.

  • Women have a right to decide for themselves whether to use birth control or get abortions.

Scott Rosenberg: The Facebook mood-manipulation study is creepy because it shows the true face of Facebook

The “emotional contagion” study dramatically rips off a curtain that separated Facebook’s public face and its backstage. Publicly, Facebook woos us with a vision of a social information stream shaped by our individual needs and networks; backstage, the folks behind the curtain are pulling levers to find more efficient ways to hijack our attention and sell us stuff. (The frontstage/backstage theory sounds like The Wizard of Oz but is actually Erving Goffman’s.)

The simple reason Facebook’s mood study creeps us out

I started this blog in April as a means of maximizing the benefit I get from social networks. But over time, I find I like getting the most from social platforms while keeping them at arm’s length. That’s particularly true of Facebook.

Uh-oh. I left the kitchen gate open and Minnie got into the catfood again

I caught her in flagrante delicto when I heard the easily identifiable clang of her tags hitting a metal bowl. I’d been hearing them for several minutes and just ignored them, but then I thought, “Why is she making that noise? I don’t feed her in the kitchen anymore.” And I looked at the open gate and I knew what had happened.

Oh, well. This was a couple of hours ago, so if the catfood gives her the trots she’s got the rest of the day to get it out of her system, rather than make a mess inside the house, or even worse, insider her crate overnight.

“Get it out of her system” is not a figure of speech.

Immediately after I caught her in the act, she knew she’d done wrong. So she went into Full Placation Mode. She knows that she gets affection if she looks sad or if she looks excited and happy, so she tried both — her head hung low with her ears down while her tail was wagging so hard that her whole butt was wiggling to keep up.

The Washington Post has a really nice review of the second and final volume of William Patterson’s Robert A. Heinlein biography

Despite an already long and cumbersome title, William H. Patterson, Jr., could have included still an additonal subtitle to the second volume of his mammoth, authorized biography of Robert A. Heinlein, something along the lines of “The Most Influential American Science Fiction Writer of the 20th Century.” Even Philip K. Dick — the current darling of hipsters and academics — regarded Heinlein as the master.

Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988) possessed an astonishing gift for fast-paced narrative, an exceptionally engaging voice and a willingness to boldly go where no writer had gone before. In “— All You Zombies—” a transgendered time traveler impregnates his younger self and thus becomes his own father and mother. The protagonist of “Tunnel in the Sky” is black, and the action contains hints of interracial sex, not the usual thing in a 1955 young adult book. While “Starship Troopers” (1959) championed the military virtues of service and sacrifice, “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961) became a bible for the flower generation, blurring sex and religion and launching the vogue word “grok.”


Like his fascinating but long-winded first volume, the second half of Patterson’s biography is difficult to judge fairly. Packed with facts both trivial and significant, relying heavily on the possibly skewed memories of the author’s widow, and utterly reverent throughout, volume two emphasizes Heinlein the husband, traveler, independent businessman and political activist. Above all, the book celebrates the intense civilization of two that Heinlein and his wife created. There is almost nothing in the way of literary comment or criticism.

Though Heinlein can do no wrong in his biographer’s eyes, if you use yours to look in Patterson’s voluminous endnotes, you will occasionally find confirmation that the writer could be casually cruel as well as admirably generous, at once true to his beliefs and unpleasantly narrow-minded and inflexible about them. Today we would call Heinlein’s convictions libertarian, his personal philosophy grounded in absolute freedom, individual responsibility and an almost religiously inflected patriotism. Heinlein could thus be a confirmed nudist and member of several Sunshine Clubs as well as a grass-roots Barry Goldwater Republican.

Throughout his life he regularly exhibited an almost feudal sense of gratitude and loyalty: Because transfusions saved his life during a difficult surgery, he actively lent his name and time to local and national blood banks. The day that Americans landed on the moon, he declared proudly, should be the first day of a new calendar; it was to him the greatest achievement in the history of humankind. When biographer Thomas Buell wrote for information about Adm. Ernest J. King, under whom Heinlein had once served, the novelist replied that he considered King a nearly perfect military officer and then produced 59 typed pages of anecdote and reminiscence.

Reviewer Michael Dirda says Heinlein’s last novels, from I Will Fear No Evil on, are “generally regarded as bloated, preachy, cutesy and dull.” I find them that way, and so do many fans, but I’ve read that they were Heinlein’s most popular books. I suspect Dirda, like me and many Heinlein fans, regard Heinlein’s so-called “boy’s books” of the 1950s as his best work.

Dirda also notes that the blurbs on the back of the Patterson biography include both uber-macho spy novelist Tom Clancy and gay African-American writer Samuel Delany, which sums up the scope of Heinlein’s work.

‘Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century,’ by William H. Patterson, Jr.